Cross-posted from In These Times
You might think corporate money corrupts our political system, but the international trade system is where money really talks.
The White House is touting the Trans-Pacific Partnership as a “21st century” trade deal, but many activists see it as a regression into economic imperialism. The pact currently in negotiations—covering Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam, with Canada and Mexico recently joining the talks—aims to establish a new trade regime that could intrude on domestic laws that affect millions of workers and consumers, from their weekly paycheck to their prescription medicines.
Thanks to some intrepid activists with Public Citizen and the Citizens Trade Campaign, the public can glimpse at the closed-door negotiations through a batch of leaked documents. So far, what’s trickled out suggests that Washington is determined to scale up the controversial framework of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), creating a new trade regime that exploits inequality between workers and employers within countries, and global inequalities between the “developed” and “developing” worlds.
The TPP, if current proposals are enacted, would grant extreme powers for corporations to act as quasi-legal entities, and potentially to take states to court in order to dismantle environmental, consumer safety, or labor protections that they feel “unfairly” pinch their profit margins. Building on previous trade agreements like NAFTA that have given foreign investors sweeping powers to circumvent domestic regulations, the proposed framework would establish a litigation system designed to protect the “rights” of investors above citizens. Read the rest of this entry →